TRANSPLANT patient David Clark is currently savouring an experience many of us take for granted, a holiday with his wife.
For many years David, of Burton Road, Midway, could only holiday for short periods because he needed dialysis treatment for polycystic kidney disease, which he was diagnosed with in 2001.
The dialysis machine essentially carried out the role of David’s kidneys which were unable to clean his blood. He relied on the machine for survival.
But on June 16 2010 David, now 56, received the kidney transplant which would bring a sense of normality back to his life.
David’s transplant was the result of a surge in the number of organ donations the NHS Blood and Transplant service has received.
In the five years since 2008 the number of organs donated to the service has risen by 50 per cent.
In the last 12 months alone, more than 1,200 people in the UK have donated organs, giving hope and life to 3,100 individuals who, just like David used to be, are on the waiting list for an organ transplant.
Speaking over the phone from a busy café near Keswick, in the Peak District, David calls the increase ‘incredible’.
He said: “I’m not surprised because I know it has been increasing since the year I had mine.
“They had already achieved the number of donations they needed for that year and I assume that is still the case. It is a terrific and incredible achievement.
“I don’t know what has caused the rise but there has been a lot of campaigning to encourage people to sign on the register and carry a donor card.”
David, whose body had rejected an earlier transplant in 2002, was twice ordered into hospital in 2010 with the prospect of receiving the life-changing transplant only to be told the kidney was incompatible.
“I had been waiting for a long time and I hadn’t heard anything for a long time.”
“Then in February I was told there was a possible donor. I was waiting all day but it turned out the donor wasn’t suitable and I couldn’t have it.”
David said despite the surge in donations, organs will always be in demand.
He said: “There will always be the need for organs because no matter how many are donated, some might not be suitable when the time comes.
“The organ or the donor might be too old or the organ might not be any good. So the more organs which are donated the better.”
In 2008 the Organ Donation Taskforce, of the NHS Blood and Transplant service, set itself the challenge to increase deceased organ donation by 50 per cent.
In order to achieve this, a number of new measures were introduced. These included employing a network of 250 specialist nurses in who would approach recently bereaved families to raise the sensitive question of organ donation.
David said: “I know if someone is dying you have to get on to their family straight away to see if these organs can be donated.
“It’s important the nurses do this because once the organs are old they are useless.
“If there is a specific person who knows the best way to approach people and can do it sensitively then this should be something which is in every hospital from the small to the big.”
One of the specialist nurses in organ donation is Louise Hubner, who is attached to the Midland’s Donation Team.
She said: “The rise in figures is very good news.
“We found that a lot of the general public were not registered and had not discussed it with their family. The system in the hospital was not as sharp as it needed to be.
“But now there is a system in place that means there are specialist nurses in every hospital to approach every family of potential organ donors.
“The team are able to give accurate information about what is possible for their relative to give.
“It is a more robust and evidence based policy whereas before the approach was made on a more ad-hoc basis.”
Speaking about the increase, Bill Fullagar, NHS Blood and Transplant chairman, said: “This is an outstanding achievement that few thought possible at the time this ambition was set. It is the result of the hard work and dedication of staff in hospitals and communities across the country.
““We must also share our heartfelt thanks with every family who, at a great time of sadness, supported their loves one’s wish to donate their organs and transform the lives of up to nine other people.”
Craig Stenhouse, medical director at Burton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We welcome the news that the number of people donating organs after death has increased by 50 per cent in the last five years, helping transform more than 3,000 lives.
“Every family, who at a time of such great sadness, takes the important step of supporting the wish of their loved ones to donate their organs can change the lives of up to nine other people.
“The advances made since 2008 are testament to the commitment of critical care and emergency department staff across the UK, and here in Staffordshire, as well as the generosity of donors and their families.”
David, who as a result of his successful and failed transplants has four kidneys, had simple and straightforward advice.
“Just carry a donor card and get on the organ donor register,” he said.
“That way a transplant can go ahead but it also makes sure your family know your wishes. Then when the time comes your organs might be used and less people will slip through the net.”
In the East Midlands, there 1,315,477 people on the organ donor register and 852 patients on the transplant waiting list.
For more information on how to become an organ donor visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk/